Until the moment I opened the door, it had been an ordinary day.

I got myself and the kids ready in the morning, took the big kids to school, took the little kids on a massive Trader Joe's run. Corey boarded a plane for Florida for two days worth of meetings.

I pulled back into our driveway around 11:30, eager to unload the groceries and lay a sleeping Kieran in his bed. I jumped out of the car, popped inside to turn off the alarm before unbuckling the sleeping baby when: "WARNING! WARNING ALARM HISTORY! ALARM HISTORY!"

The words flashing at me from the monitor made no sense. Alarm history? What alarm history? Everything looked just as I had left it, three hours earlier. I punched a few buttons. "SUNROOM DOOR! ZONE 1 MOTION DETECTOR! FRONT DOOR! ALARM HISTORY!"

Completely befuddled, I walked a few steps from the mudroom so I could see the sunroom door -- and I saw it open. Deadbolt extended. Wood trim on the floor. Pieces of pink insulation thrown around the room.

Lightning adrenaline seared through every vein in my body. I turned around, got back into my still running car, backed down the driveway and shut the garage door in one fluid motion. My hands were shaking as I dialed 911.

"What's going on, Mommy?" Teyla asked.

I have no idea, I thought to myself.

Three minutes later, a sheriff's deputy pulled in our driveway. I stayed in my car, as instructed. He went around the back of the house. A few minutes later, a second squad car showed up. I rolled down my window to hear, "I see footsteps going in, but none coming out."

I involuntarily drew my breath. Up to that point, I wasn't convinced we had suffered a break-in. It just didn't make sense. Except for the sunroom, everything had looked so normal. The breakfast dishes were still in the sink. Our Christmas tree shone brightly from its corner. A few Little People lay on the floor. This can't be happening.

But it was. The officers came out the front door 10 minutes later. "We've gone through the house. No one is inside. But we'll need you to come in with us and tell us what's missing."

Only the master bedroom had been touched. The top drawers were all open and rifled through. I looked in our closet.

"My jewelry box is gone," I said, picking up the lonely lid from what had been a three layer box.

The sheriff made notes. I walked back out and then, "Oh! My laptop! My laptop is missing!"

The empty spot on my desk hadn't initially registered. I often move my laptop around the house; a bare desk strewn with deserted power cords was a common sight.

But this time, it wasn't me who had moved my laptop. It was someone else.

The deputies were kind but focused. Our house was the fourth break-in in our area that morning. "Someone's out Christmas shopping," one of them said wryly. They took me out back and showed me where the thief had cut our phone line. So that's why the security system didn't notify the police.

And just like that, they were gone, leaving behind a business card and a case number. "Call if you notice anything else missing."

Ummmm. How about my sense of safety? My bubble of control?

I called Corey, who had just landed in Fort Lauderdale. He barely made it out of the airport before he was back inside, calling Delta and buying a ticket on the next direct flight back to Minneapolis.

The next few hours were a blur. My in-laws arrived; we had planned for them to come over Tuesday afternoon to watch Teyla and Kieran so I could do a few hours of Christmas shopping alone. Providence. Thanks to them, I was able to call Comcast about the phone line, call our favorite carpenter to repair the door, call the security company to have someone come out and reset our monitors and then race to our local library to change all my online passwords.

Miraculously, by that evening, the house was back to normal - full strength, as they say in hockey. Our carpenter friend came before dinner and not only repaired the door, but strengthened the deadbolt. Comcast upped our repair to an emergency status and had a tech to our place by nightfall. Corey got home by 5:00, ragged and weary. The kids and I were so glad to see him. His presence took the crazy level down five notches.

With help from the security company, we learned our thief was probably a pro. He cut our phone lines before he even attempted to get into our house. He used a crowbar to pop open our sunroom door. He went right to the master bedroom, the place where most people store their jewels, guns and extra money. (Or, in our case, our costume jewelry, our Bibles and our socks.)

But. He apparently didn't count on our alarm siren going on - even with a cut phone line. Because our monitors show he entered the sunroom at 9:03 and left via the front door at 9:04. And he left in a hurry, too. I found one earring and an shell bracelet scattered on our front sidewalk later that afternoon. So the air-raid siren that terrifies my children (we've set it off numerous times accidentally, potentially scarring Connor for life) also freaks out the bad guys. Good to know.

Initially, I was more upset about losing my laptop. My precious. But in the days since the break-in, I have become far more poignant about the loss of my jewelry.

Besides a pair of diamond earrings that Corey bought me a few Christmases back, I had nothing valuable. It was all glass and plastic, nothing worthwhile to resell or pawn. But to me, it was all priceless. The earrings I wore on my wedding day. The green-and-blue-glass bracelet I bought at the flea market up north. All my Mercy House jewelry. The silver hoops so big they were dubbed "the dog hoops" during my internships at KARE-11. All the holiday pins my parents gave me when I was a little girl: the beaded red heart for Valentine's Day, the wooden shamrock, the smiling Santa, the red-cheeked cupid. The brooches my mom "loaned me" in the 80s so I could pin them on my top shirt button and look cool. The chunky aquamarine shell and stone necklace Corey bought for me in Indonesia, when he went to help with tsunami relief.

Turns out, my jewelry box didn't just hold pretty baubles. It held memories.

My laptop held memories too, of course. But a few hours after my laptop was stolen, I was able to confirm - to my great relief - that my files had been backed up to my external hard drive just a few day prior. So I lost virtually no information, except the latest copy of my To Do List. Eleven years of pictures and video -- safe. Whew.

And then Corey agreed that I could replace my Dell laptop with a Mac and ... well, let's just say I suddenly saw the silver lining of the break-in.

Lessons learned?

1. A security system isn't a guarantee (obviously), but it's worth the money - especially if you live in a more secluded area like we do. We have neighbors, but our lots are big, and the houses are set back from the road. It makes sense for us - especially since Corey travels. Even if the system was partially thwarted this time, the fact that it cut short the time the thief spent in our home earned it its keep.

2. That said, this was another gentle reminder that God alone is my true refuge. If I didn't have that bedrock beneath my feet, I doubt I would have regained my sense of well-being as quickly as I did. He is my ultimate security. If I believe Him and His promises to me, I have nothing to fear.

3. If you don't already, back up your computer. This story would be vastly different if I didn't have my files backed up. I used an HP Simple Save external hard drive. It's super easy - just plug it in to your computer, and it will instantly create a backup of your hard drive. Best part: it will back up every 5 min thereafter. So you don't have to do anything to stay current. I didn't leave mine plugged in all the time, since I had a laptop that got moved all over the house all day. But I tried to plug it in at least once we a week, and for sure every time I downloaded pictures from my camera. That's your PSA for the day. Just do it.

4. Macs rule. (More on that in a future post.)

Thank you for your thoughts, prayers and well wishes the last week. Your outrage on our behalf and warm words of support wrapped me in peace and comfort.


  1. Thankful that you and your family are safe. And, yes I agree. "Mac's RULE"

    Merry Christmas

  2. Kelly, I've thought about you so often since you first posted about this. I'm glad to hear everything is... okay. I know so much is lost, but you've got your priorities in check (your new Mac being one, obviously).

    I'm taking note about that back up. On Christmas Day, my Mac will be 2. I've never backed it up. Ever. I've had a brand new external hard drive awaiting my use in the office for approximately 4 months now. Tonight is the night!

    I'm still praying that the bully who did this to my friends will feel some remorse and return your jewelry... your memories. But he can keep the stinkin' PC. ;)

  3. So glad everyone's ok, and that you've got one heck of an alarm system! Since hearing about it on Twitter, I'm looking into some cloud storage. I've got 5 years of graphic design work on my computer. I do an external backup, but if some kind of disaster took that out, I would be in trouble.

    Hope you like your shiny new mac! I've been a mac girl my whole life.

  4. We've had our business broken into several times, and it leaves you with such a violated feeling. I don't understand anyone who feels they can take what isn't theirs..So thankful you and the kids were just fine.

    And yes, Mac's rule. ;) Silver lining indeed. Off to go back mine up...

  5. Wow. Made me shudder as I read this and remembered being a kid and experiencing this. Hugs.

  6. Soooo sorry. Most of what's on my computer is junk, but I do leave all my photos on my camera until I've also backed them up on my external hard drive. Things to do this evening before we leave for vacation after Christmas! (the camera is pretty much always with me)
    And yeah, I don't have any valuable jewelry either, but the memories... so sorry about that. I always think that if there was ever a fire at our house the very first things I would grab would be my flute and as many of my scrapbooks as I could (as well as that external hard drive!). Nothing valuable to a thief, but to me, irreplaceable.
    It's good to remember that while it would hurt (and again I'm sooo sorry) our real treasure is where thieves can never get to it! :)
    Congrats on the new computer!

  7. Oh wow. Can you believe we've had a couple of break-ins in our neighborhood too lately? Must be the season.

    But, I definitely need to back up my computer. Getting right on that.

    Glad you're all safe and sound! Merry Christmas!

  8. I am so sorry you had to endure this. I had this happen to us 20 yrs ago. As we pulled in they ran out the front door. I understand how you feel. The little bit of jewelry I have I hide in weird spots in the house but then sometimes forget where I put it.

    Maybe they should of taken your bible, opened it up and learned a few things.

    Merry Christmas to you !!!

  9. Thank God you are ok. I hope your sense of security and peace is being restored. I imagine it might take awhile.

    Thank you for sharing this story and such great advice. I have nothing outwardly valuable, but plenty of sentimental items. I am so sorry you are missing those sweet things.

  10. So sorry for all that you lost but so thankful for back up! And yes, we are proud members of Cult Mac; welcome to the club!

  11. Wow, that's terrifying, We have a dog (border collie) and that gives a peace of mind as well.

  12. I was thinking about this again all day yesterday, as we spent the night at my parents' house on Christmas night and were gone the whole next day. I was sure my house would be broken into. Not kidding! I was quite nervous about it. Especially since I left my laptop on my bed in the bedroom - your words were echoing through my mind all day. But I need to know - was your house clean? I'm hopeful that they step in the door to this mess and not know where to begin, turn around and leave. Cheap security system, but I'm wondering if it will work.

    So... spotless house or post-hurricane disaster? Which did your thieves prefer?

  13. Oooof. Just HUGS... What a thing to happen to a sweet family like yours. I'm glad you are all safe and you're enjoying your Mac. xo

  14. I know I'm late with this, and that I already commented about this on FB when you mentioned it there. But wanted to add my outrage. Also, I totally agree about the impossible-to-replace stuff being the hardest. We were robbed in Mauritania, and the guy took our TV and stereo and meat from the freezer (proof it was a local!) and I didn't even really care, cuz he left my not-backed-up computers. When I worry about fire, I worry about the silly stuff you wouldn't grab--the irreplaceable memory laden things. Ouch.
    Glad you're doing better. How was Christmas? I'm ready for some cute kid pics...